Political science professor Alexander Cooley was quoted in two articles that are part of “Obama's World,” a feature in Politico Magazine about the Obama administration’s relationship with foreign governments. Prof. Cooley, an expert on Central Asia, provided commentary for articles on Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
An excerpt about former Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, who was in power from 1990 to 2005, and his successor Kurmanbek Bakiyev:
“Akayev’s rule began benignly – in the 1990s he ‘held a veneer of bucking the regional trend and being a liberalizer,” says Alexander Cooley, a Central Asia expert at Barnard College – but by the 2000s Akayev was cracking down on domestic opponents and positioning his relatives to profit from fuel contracts at the U.S. base at Manas. After rigged 2005 parliamentary elections installed several Akayev family members in the legislature, the long-suffering Kyrgyz public overthrew him the next month. But his successor, Bakiyev, followed a similar trajectory. Political opponents and journalists were intimidated and killed, while the president’s family divvied up state assets “like a family business,” says Cooley.”
Prof. Cooley is the political science department chair at Barnard. At Columbia, he is also deputy director for social sciences programming at the Harriman Institute, and a doctoral dissertation sponsor in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. His research examines how external actors have influenced the development and sovereignty of the former Soviet states, with a focus on Central Asia and the Caucasus. In addition to his academic research, Prof. Cooley serves on several international advisory and policy committees. His opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs and The Washington Quarterly; he regularly provides commentary to international media outlets on Eurasia-related topics.